Tag Archives: Ohio State Buckeyes

Column: Indiana’s offseason additions were successful pickups

Roster turnover is the status quo in the world of college basketball. Between transfers, of which there were hundreds last offseason, and early entries to the NBA Draft, teams are forced to add players in the offseason and sometimes mid-season to fill out their rosters.

Indiana has had a much roster turnover as any school in the past two seasons. From the start of the 2013-14 season until the start of this season, five players — Luke Fischer, Austin Etherington, Jeremy Hollowell, Jonny Marlin and Peter Jurkin — transferred, Will Sheehey, Evan Gordon, Jeff Howard and Taylor Wayer graduated, Noah Vonleh entered the NBA Draft and several walk-ons didn’t return to the program.

Two scholarships remained available for Indiana as returning players and Indiana’s five-man freshman class, including late signees Jeremiah April and Tim Priller, occupied 11 of the team’s scholarships. Indiana’s coaching staff looked to fill out the team’s roster with transfers and unsigned freshmen. Tom Crean & Co. hoped to add size and experience to their young and undersized roster.

Several transfer big men received offers from Indiana, including Boston College’s Ryan Anderson, Virginia Tech’s Trevor Thompson and Temple’s Anthony Lee, but none of them committed to play for the Hoosiers. Anderson, who is sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules, will use his final year of eligibility at Arizona in the 2015-16 season. Thompson, also sidelined due to NCAA transfer rules, and Lee, a senior, chose Ohio State over Indiana.

The Hoosiers added redshirt junior guard Nick Zeisloft, who transferred from Illinois State, in July and they swooped in to offer freshman Emmitt Holt a scholarship, which he accepted in late August, before he went to prep school for a year.

On Saturday afternoon, Indiana had the chance to face a player who had spurned the Hoosiers: Anthony Lee.

Not only did Indiana defeat No. 22 Ohio State, but Zeisloft and Holt combined for 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, 11 rebounds, two blocks and an assist in 37 minutes while Lee played four minutes off the bench, registering one assist and one missed shot.

Granted, Indiana and Ohio State aren’t apples to apples in terms of comparing the two college basketball programs. They have different coaches and different strengths and weaknesses with their respective rosters. Maybe Lee’s 6-foot-9, 230-pound frame and three years of Division I experience would’ve been valuable for the Hoosiers this season, but he’s become virtually a non-factor for the Buckeyes.

He’s averaging 3.6 points and 2.5 rebounds in 11.1 minutes per game this season, all of which are career lows.

Instead of getting one year of Lee or Anderson, or having Anderson or Thompson sit out this season but still occupy a scholarship slot, the Hoosiers have two players who are playing right away and who will play for Indiana for multiple seasons. Zeisloft is a veteran off the bench who gives the Hoosiers one of the best catch-and-shoot players in the Big Ten. Holt could be on the verge of cracking Indiana’s starting lineup and he’s on track to be a building block in Indiana’s frontcourt for years to come.

It’s hard to put a value on Zeisloft’s contributions for Indiana. Despite just joining the program last summer, he was selected as one of two players, along with Yogi Ferrell, to represent the team at the Big Ten Media Day. After Devin Davis suffered a traumatic brain injury on Nov. 1, Zeisloft was assigned to address the media. He’s flexible in whatever role Crean uses him in, whether it be as a starter as he was to start the season or as a key reserve. And Crean has also elected to use him as the team’s technical foul free throw shooter.

While Holt doesn’t have the size of a typical Big Ten power forward or center, he has a monstrous wingspan, relentless energy, a high basketball IQ and a commitment to boxing out. His 15 points and five rebounds were crucial in Indiana’s win against Pittsburgh and his consistent production off the bench has made Crean wonder whether or not Holt should replace junior forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea in the starting lineup.

Indiana fans may have hoped that Indiana would’ve added more size to its roster in the offseason, but they should be happy with the two Hoosiers who filled the team’s final scholarships. They have added depth to Indiana’s bench and continuity for future seasons as role players who make hustle plays, which are often the difference between a win and a loss, as seen in Saturday’s win.

Indiana bounces back with win over No. 22 Ohio State, looks to build consistency

Indiana’s four losses this season have come in a frustrating, ugly fashion for the Hoosiers. Their close losses to Eastern Washington and Georgetown were winnable games. The margins of defeat against Louisville and Michigan State were embarrassing.

But just as the Hoosiers have taken their licks, they have licked their wounds each time, learned from their mistakes and responded to adversity. Just ask Pittsburgh, then-No. 23 Butler and Nebraska, who all fell to the Hoosiers in the wake of a loss by Indiana. Saturday afternoon, No. 22 Ohio State joined that list as Indiana picked up its third win against a ranked opponent by knocking off the Buckeyes, 69-66.

After Indiana’s 20-point loss at Michigan State, Indiana coach Tom Crean said the Hoosiers didn’t compete as well enough as they need to in any game. He questioned their purpose on offense and criticized their activity on defense.

Five days after Indiana’s disastrous trip to East Lansing, Mich., lightning nearly struck twice in the opening minutes of its Big Ten home opener against Ohio State.

Junior forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea picked up two fouls in the first 84 seconds against the Spartans; against the Buckeyes, he picked up two fouls in the opening 86 seconds and subsequently earned an extended trip to the bench.

Through the first media timeout, Indiana had five turnovers and the Hoosiers were 1-of-4 from the field, allowing Ohio State to jump out to a 9-2 lead.

Crean often talks about snatching momentum when it’s up for grabs. Indiana did just that and responded with a 24-6 run that was fueled off of hustle plays, offensive rebounds, defensive tenacity and a trio 0f 3-pointers.

Sophomore forward Troy Williams, who had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, said Indiana’s defense changed the game.

“Our defense led to our offense,” he said. “We started getting into our flow, we started getting scoring runs and more and more rebounds and then pushing and starting the break, so defense is definitely what helped us.”

Crean credited Williams’ multiple highlight reel dunks for bringing energy to Assembly Hall and the Hoosiers.

“We were losing our energy a little bit and that Troy dunk just brought everybody — it certainly brought our team up,” he said. “You need those doses of energy to create more momentum.”

With Mosquera-Perea on the bench and a quiet half from freshman guard James Blackmon Jr. (1-of-5 from the field, 2 points), Williams, along with Nick Zeisloft and Collin Hartman off the bench, stepped up for the Hoosiers.

Zeisloft scored all eight of his points in the first half and chipped in four rebounds, the biggest of which came after he dove on the ground to beat two Buckeye players to a loose ball and he tapped it to Yogi Ferrell. It was the first of three offensive rebounds for Indiana on that trip down the floor and the possession ended with a 3-pointer from Ferrell that gave the Hoosiers a 17-15 lead.

Indiana never trailed again.

While Indiana had pedestrian shooting numbers in the first half, the Hoosiers dominated the boards and ate up the Buckeyes’ matchup zone on the offensive glass. Indiana doubled up Ohio State in the first half rebounding battle, 30-15, and grabbed more than half of its missed shots.

The Buckeyes managed to claw back before halftime as Indiana made only four free throws and no field goals in the final 4:49 of the half.

Even as Indiana distanced itself from Ohio State in the second half as its lead grew to 10, the Buckeyes kept the game close. Mosquera-Perea and Ziesloft fouled out late in the second half, and despite three blocks from Collin Hartman in the final four minutes, Ohio State ended up scoring after each one.

Ohio State’s full-court pressure slowed down the Hoosiers’ fast-paced offense and the Buckeyes climbed within one point of Indiana in the waning seconds, but Indiana made its free throws down the stretch to improve to 2-1 in conference play.

Indiana has shown that it can take a punch and respond with one of its own, but the Hoosiers need to find consistency in their play. That takes time, Crean said.

“We have been getting mentally tougher all year long, right, but it doesn’t mean it’s consistent,” he said. “You know, when it’s really there is when it becomes part of who you are. And we’re growing in that, we are definitely growing in that.”

Hoosiers look for a win against Ohio State in Big Ten opener

Hosting No. 22 Ohio State could be just what the doctor ordered for Indiana following its 20-point loss at Michigan State on Monday.

Indiana coach Tom Crean said Friday that his team learned from the loss that it didn’t compete at the level it needs to — the Hoosiers didn’t cut as hard as they needed to, they didn’t play with purpose on offense and they weren’t active enough on defense. For Indiana’s sake, it better hope that there’s nothing a little home cooking can’t fix.

The combination of a noon tip on a Saturday and students still being on Christmas break means that Assembly Hall may lack its typical energy, but there’s no denying the Hoosiers’ home court advantage in Bloomington, especially against ranked teams. Indiana beat four of the five Big Ten teams that it hosted in Assembly Hall last season.

Plus, if the Hoosiers are able to move the ball quickly and unselfishly on offense, Indiana has a favorable matchup against Ohio State’s 2-3 zone defense. Ohio State coach Thad Matta has said that he hasn’t practiced man-to-man defense since last spring, so the Hoosiers will know exactly what they’re going to go up against on Saturday.

Three-point shots will be readily available for Indiana, as the Buckeyes’ opponents have scored 35.8 percent of their points against Ohio State off of three-pointers, which is one of the highest marks in the country. Through Ohio State’s first 16 games, more than 40 percent of its opponents’ shots have been from behind the arc.

If Indiana can shoot near its season average of 39 percent from behind the three-point line and avoid a catastrophe like its 5-of-24 performance against the Spartans, the Hoosiers will have a chance to pick up their third win against a ranked opponent this season. However in order for that to happen, James Blackmon Jr. and Nick Zeisloft will have to figure out their shooting strokes as both guards have had ugly shooting slumps recently. Blackmon Jr. is 3-of-23 from the field in his past two games and Zeisloft is 3-of-20 from behind the arc in his past four.

Crean said he’s not worried about the poor shooting performances.

“I go recruiting last night, I get back in here about 9:30, he’s out there shooting,” he said of Blackmon Jr. “The last thing I’m worried about is him making shots. I think shot preparation, being ready to shoot, coming off screens better, getting out in transition, using the ball screen better, those all become parts of it, but he’ll make shots.”

Rebounding will be one of the deciding factors in the outcome of Saturday’s matchup. In Ohio State’s three losses, it was minus-26 in combined rebound margin. While the Hoosiers have been inconsistent on the glass, they’ve proven they can win the rebounding battle (i.e. +8 against No. 23 Butler, +13 against Nebraska) but they’ll have to get improved play from their frontcourt in order to so once again.

Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Troy Williams had their worst performances of the season in East Lansing, Mich. The duo combined for zero points, two rebounds and four fouls in 27 minutes against the Spartans.

After Indiana’s loss at Michigan State and again at Friday’s press conference previewing its matchup with Ohio State, Crean has mentioned that he’s considering whether or not to make a change in his starting lineup, replacing Mosquera-Perea for freshman Emmitt Holt.

Crean said Mosquera-Perea has responded well since the loss to the Spartans and has since had a good week of practice, but the junior forward may not be in the clear just yet.

“I’ve thought about a lot of things, I may make a switch there,” Crean said before adding that if he did decide to make a change, it wouldn’t be announced in a press conference. “We’ve got to get our execution on both sides of the court and we’ve got to get our rebounding up and he’s capable of doing all of that for us.”

Swapping Holt for Mosquera-Perea would make Indiana’s starting lineup even smaller, but it would allow the energetic Holt to take on a bigger role.

The biggest defensive concern for Indiana is stopping Ohio State freshman guard and potential NBA Draft lottery pick D’Angelo Russell. Russell scored 25 points in the first half of the Buckeyes’ game against Minnesota on Tuesday and he has averaged 18.3 points per game this season. The freshman shoots better than 45 percent from three-point range and makes nearly three treys per game, while also having one of the better assist rates in the country.

It’s a tall task but if Indiana can stop, or at least slow down, Russell, it can beat Ohio State.

“D’Angelo Russell, he’s taken about a 100 more shots than anyone else on the team, but he also passes the ball pretty well,” Crean said. “I think the fact that they can score from three, the fact that they can score in the lane and they can post.”

“They’re getting good looks, they’re getting really good looks and we’ve got to take those away.”

Statistics don’t tell the entire story in IU’s 42-14 loss to No. 3 Ohio State

Statistics can be misleading.

In Saturday’s matchup between No. 3 Ohio State and Indiana, Team A ran 92 offensive plays for 442 yards, 24 first downs and held the ball for 34:12.

Team B ran 56 offensive plays for 471 yards, 22 first downs and held the ball for 25:48.

Team A is the Indiana Hoosiers, who became the 23rd consecutive opponent to be defeated by Ohio State, after the Buckeyes topped the Hoosiers 42-14 in Columbus, Ohio.

“It looked a little close except for the scoreboard,” IU Coach Kevin Wilson said. “and that’s the one that counts.”

Wilson said the difference in the game was Ohio State’s ability to run the ball and IU’s inability to move the ball on the ground.

The Hoosiers ran for 122 yards, which was slightly more than one-third of the Buckeyes’ rushing yards (311).

Wilson described the difference between the two spread offenses simply, saying, “Their players made the plays.”

For the second consecutive game, IU was held scoreless in the first half. The Hoosiers found themselves down 28-0 against Ohio State one week after No. 22 Wisconsin led the Hoosiers 27-0 after the first two quarters.

Despite IU going pound for pound with Ohio State in total offensive statistics on paper, Wilson described the Hoosier offense as “anemic” in the first half.

“We go a couple quarters and a half before we really get anything going offensively,” Wilson said. “When we did, we broke down in the scoring zone.”

Senior wide receiver Kofi Hughes said IU’s defense did everything for which the team could have asked.

“(The defense) created turnovers, created some stops and gave us great field position all day,” he said. “My only thing is that if you’re ever on the 4-yard line or 2- or 1-yard line and you can’t run the ball in the end zone, I feel that’s just our want to. It’s not scheme or anything like that.”

“That’s me versus you and we’re going to run it down your throat….and it didn’t happen.”

Junior running back D’Angelo Roberts, who made his first start of the season in lieu of the injured Tevin Coleman, said the Hoosiers didn’t come out of the gate with as much focus as they needed.

“We go three-and-out, we don’t score, we go to the goal line and we don’t score again, it’s going to hurt us as a team,” Roberts said.

The Hoosiers had two potential scoring drives end in missed field goals. Before Saturday, redshirt senior kicker Mitch Ewald was perfect—46-of-46 on PATs and 9-of-9 on field goal attempts—this season.

Ewald hit the right cross bar from 42 yards out in the first quarter, then the left cross bar on a 41-yard attempt on the same end of the field in the third quarter.

“I told Mitch Ewald ‘Those are two great kicks in tough weather and it hit the bar,’” Wilson said. “I mean come on now, they were good swings; first one (he) went and pushed it, next one he placed a push and it doesn’t push.”

Wilson said the difference between the two teams was in the “conversion game.”

“Their ability to convert in the scoring zone and make plays, the blocked punt turnover, that’s the difference in the ball game,” he said.

Click here to read this post on the Indiana Daily Student’s Hoosier Hype blog. 

With a bowl berth out of the picture, IU sets sights on Old Oaken Bucket

This was supposed to be the year when IU ended its five-year stretch without a bowl berth.

The players expected to reach the six-win mark in 2013 after IU finished with a 4-8 record last season with four losses by a combined 10 points.

“It would just be a great way to end my senior year and it would let me know that my last four years here haven’t been a waste,” senior wide receiver Kofi Hughes said at the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, Ill. in July, referring to the Hoosiers making a bowl game.

Redshirt senior kicker Mitch Ewald, who also represented IU at the media days, said the team’s goal is to one of the top three teams in the Big Ten every year rather being a bowl team.

“I think if we were saying that was our goal, that would be an extremely huge understatement,” he said. “There’s no number of games that we want to win, we want to go out there and play really hard and try and win every single game.”

Flash forward four months and IU is officially eliminated from bowl contention after its 42-14 loss to No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday.

In the post-game press conference, IU Coach Kevin Wilson said he never talked to the team about making a bowl game.

“We talk about constant improvement, getting better every day,” he said. “We’re making some strides. It ain’t where you need to be.”

The loss weighed heavily on the shoulders of the IU players. Several Hoosiers were teary-eyed and choked up when talking to the media in the post-game press conferences.

Did the players think IU was going to make a bowl game?

“Absolutely,” junior running back D’Angelo Roberts said. “Nobody says to themselves that we’re not going to be bowl team so we come in with the mindset to be a bowl team and unfortunately that’s out of the picture for this year.”

Most of the IU players have at least one more year of eligibility—76 of the 105 players invited to fall camp are underclassmen—to work to attain an elusive bowl berth but for many of the team’s leaders, this is their last go round.

“I’ve got some guys that I’ve got a lot of respect for that have hung through some thick and thin with us,” Wilson said. “The guys that are on the end of their eligibility—Bolser, DuWyce Wilson, Kofi Hughes, Stephen Houston, Greg Heban, Mitch Ewald, I got a lot of respect (for them).”

While the Ohio State loss certainly stings, the Hoosiers don’t have time to dwell on the past. They host in-state rival Purdue (1-10, 0-7) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in a battle for the Old Oaken Bucket.

“I think we’re just going to take it one day at a time, continue to work and try to win this game for every senior we have and everybody who cares about the Hoosiers,” Roberts said. “Last game of the season, last game for some people forever. I think we want to take those players out because we were the start of Coach Wilson and he’s taken care of us and we belong and grow and adapt as a team.”

“This is going to be a rough week as far as emotionally but physically we need to come out and take care of business and prepare for the team we got in front of us.”

Wilson said IU has a great opportunity on Saturday because unlike many college football programs, the Hoosiers have a strong rivalry.

“It’s a trophy game, it is the last game of the year,” he said. “I want to have my best week as a coach and put our kids in position to have the best week they can and see if we can get the five (wins), see if we can get three conference wins…and play as well as we can and see if they can be good enough to get us a victory for these guys in their last go.”

Click here to read this post on the Indiana Daily Student’s Hoosier Hype blog. 

Hoosier ground game struggles again without Coleman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — IU’s 42-14 loss to No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday marked the second consecutive game in which the Hoosiers’ running backs were held to fewer than 100 yards.

In the past two weeks, No. 22 Wisconsin and Ohio State jumped out to early leads against IU and the Hoosiers were held scoreless in the first halves of both matchups.

What caused the Hoosiers’ slow starts on offense?

“Three-and-outs, maybe not coming out to play,” junior running back D’Angelo Roberts said.

Wisconsin and Ohio State both took four-touchdown leads into halftime against IU.

“For two weeks in a row, we kind of started off slow,” Roberts said. “You can’t really establish a running game when you have to play catch up. As an offense, we need to come out and score and not have to be put in this position every week.”

Roberts and senior Stephen Houston have taken the reigns of IU’s backfield after the team’s starting running back, sophomore Tevin Coleman, suffered a right ankle sprain against Minnesota.

IU Coach Kevin Wilson said despite Coleman’s absence the past two weeks, the Hoosiers do not have a void at running back.

“Stephen’s played well,” Wilson said. “D’Angelo has been solid.”

However, IU’s offense lacks a home run potential out of the backfield without Coleman. The Tinley Park, Ill., native led the country in runs of at least 40 yards through the first 11 weeks of the season.

“He’s just a little bit better as far as suddenness, explosiveness,” Wilson said. “(He’s) a little more decisive, taking three and getting you five, taking five and running through a crack and getting you 15, 20. The other guys are pretty good but sometimes you get a little more what you block.

“A really good back sometimes will, when there’s a nickel, he’ll get you a dime and a quarter and a little bit more money for the blocking.”

Wilson said IU and Ohio State’s offensive statistics looked similar on paper. However, the scoreboard — the only statistic that truly matters in determining wins and losses — heavily favored the home team.

“The real difference (was) their ability to run the ball and our inability to run the ball,” he said.

In Wilson’s eyes, a good offensive team can run the ball “when zones get tight and the weather gets bad.”

“The games we’ve played well, we ran it and played pretty good run defense,” he said. “The games that we’ve struggled, we haven’t had the run game. Bottom line, that’s a format there that’s going to be tough to win games.”

In IU’s wins this season, the Hoosiers have run for an average of 275 yards per game and they held their opponents to less than 163 rushing yards in each victory.

On average in the team’s losses, IU ran for 132 yards while allowing more than 331 yards per game.

“It wasn’t there today,” Wilson said. “Credit to Ohio State (for) getting off blocks and having proper leverage and tackling us.”

The Hoosiers doubled the Buckeyes in passing yards, 320 to 160, but Wilson credited Ohio State’s play at the line of scrimmage and in the backfield as the difference in the game.

“There’s a lot of teams that do what we do in the spread,” he said. “Actually throw it very, very well. The teams that are really good are still running for two-, two-fifty, three-hundred (yards).”

Ohio State ran for 311 yards, led by junior quarterback Braxton Miller’s 144 yards on the ground.

“We haven’t been able to do that against good teams,” Wilson said. “That’s a credit to their defense and shows where our weaknesses are as we’re still trying to grow and get where we need to be.”

Click here to read this article on the Indiana Daily Student website.

TE Bolser making most of senior year

Following IU’s 52-49 loss to No. 8 Ohio State in October, an Ohio State fan tweeted about scoring a goal in lacrosse against then-redshirt junior tight end Ted Bolser in high school. The fan used a broken version of the transitive property to say that he could play Bolser’s position for the Hoosiers.

Bolser responded by saying how he could have played lacrosse at the University of Maryland on scholarship.

Ranked the 34th best tight end prospect in the country by ESPN for the 2009 recruiting class, Bolser chose to pursue a football career at IU instead of lacrosse.

The 6-foot-6 inch, 252-pound tight end laughed, reflecting on the Twitter exchange, and said he had no idea where his lacrosse career could have gone.

“I did love the sport,” Bolser said. “But I’m happy I chose football, to say the least.”

Bolser will have one final chance to upset the Buckeyes when IU faces No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday in what will arguably be the most important game of his career. It’s a must-win matchup for the Hoosiers to earn bowl eligibility, it’s the final road game of his IU career and he will return to his home state to face a team that hasn’t lost since Jan. 2, 2012.

However, Bolser is treating it like any other game on IU’s schedule.

“We want to beat every Big Ten team,” he said. “It’s a Big Ten team that happens to be No. 3 in the nation at this time, but still, I don’t really look at that and if I did, you’re just mentally beat already.”

The Bolser family, who doesn’t miss any of Ted’s games, will be in attendance at Ohio Stadium. Bolser said between 10 and 15 of his high school friends go to Ohio State.

“I’m excited to play there in the fact that all my friends who went to Ohio State are finally seeing me,” he said.

Plus, the ABC-ESPN reverse mirror broadcast means that a bigger spotlight will be on Touchdown Ted on Saturday.

“I know everybody is going to be watching, so it’s exciting to show my abilities when we play against one of the best teams in the nation,” he said.

* * *

Bolser was a three-sport star at Indian Hill High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition to being an All-Ohio football player, he was the captain of the Braves’ lacrosse team and led the city in rebounds and steals as a sophomore for Indian Hill’s varsity basketball team.

Bolser’s former high school football coach, Kevin Siple, said the tight end was always motivated to play the game.

“He is so competitive, and hated to lose more than anyone I have ever coached,” Siple said.

Indian Hill, which went undefeated in the Cincinnati Hills League during Bolser’s three seasons on varsity, ran a spread, no-huddle offense. The team never lined up with a traditional tight end on offense.

Bolser played split end, filling in on defense at linebacker in big games or key situations as needed.

Siple said Bolser was a leader by example and it started from his upbringing.

“His parents had very high behavior expectations of Ted and his brothers to do the right thing all the time,” Siple said.

Ted’s father, Tom Bolser, is a teacher, so Siple said Bolser always took care of his business in the classroom.

“Since he was such a competitive person, his teammates always respected his will to win and followed his lead,” Siple said.

Siple said the characteristic that stood out to him was Bolser’s constant desire to improve.

“Even though Ted was always the biggest and best athlete on the field, he always worked to get better,” Siple said. “He could have just ‘coasted’ in high school and still dominated, but he worked hard to get better. That’s the kind of player Ted was.”

***

IU Coach Kevin Wilson said Bolser has played with a sense of urgency this season because it’s his final year in Bloomington and he wants to play in the NFL.

Despite Bolser’s size and career résumé, Wilson said it’s going to be tough for the tight end to make it to the next level.

“He’s not a true body that fits some of their things in special teams and fits some of those things in their blocking mode and what they need to do at that league,” Wilson said.

Siple had similar concerns about Bolser when the tight end was making the jump from playing on Friday nights in high school to competing on Saturdays in the Big Ten.

“The thing that stood out to me was his development as a blocking TE,” he said. “Ted has the best hands of any player I have ever coached, plus he has the physical size to compete at a high level, so I knew the receiving part of the position would not be a problem.”

For Siple, his biggest question about Bolser’s transition to higher ranks of organized
football was if the tight end could be an effective blocker for the Hoosiers.

“Since he was always a split end growing up, I thought putting his hand on the ground and blocking in the Big Ten was going to be the challenge,” Siple said. “To Ted’s credit, and his coaches at IU, he has shown so much improvement week to week in that area.”

Bolser said that a big part of blocking is having the mentality.

“Mentally I’ve been great this past summer all the way through now, and if you ask Coach Wilson, it’s definitely mentality,” Bolser said. “I think I’ve definitely improved in that aspect.”

Since IU games were always televised in Cincinnati, Siple had the opportunity to
watch his former player compete almost every week in the fall. Seeing Bolser’s growth at tight end over the course of five seasons in Bloomington convinced Siple that Bolser’s NFL dreams could come to fruition in 2014.

“I think that’s what really convinced me that he could have the chance to play on Sundays,” he said.

***

While Bolser may lack some of the physical tools necessary to play professionally, he tries to make up the difference in his effort.

“He knows he’s got to play at a high level of energy and effort,” Wilson said.

Bolser is multifaceted. He not only contributes to the Hoosiers’ offense as a receiver and blocker but he is a starter on IU’s special teams unit.

“He can make some plays in the pass game, but he’s been awesome in kick coverage,” Wilson said. “He’s been awesome in punt coverage.”

Even though Bolser has doubled up on his starting roles as both a tight end and on special teams coverage, his effort has not suffered.

“You watch Bolser, he’s the first guy down covering a kick after you score a touchdown,” Wilson said. “That’s what you want. That’s great to see.”

In IU’s first six games, Bolser was named Offensive Player of the Week twice and
Special Teams Player of the Week three times.

“I really enjoy it,” Bolser said. “I like to show my separation from other guys, and I like to be the best at whatever I do. If that involves special teams, I’m going to try to do my best.”

The SPEA Management major became the 20th receiver in program history with at least 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in his career.

Bolser is IU’s all-time leader in receiving yards (1,313) and touchdowns (14) by a tight end. With 112 catches as a Hoosier, he trails only Bob Stephenson in career receptions by a tight end, and he needs just four more to break the record.

While he acknowledges how special it is for him to leave his name in IU’s record books, Bolser isn’t caught up in the numbers.

“I literally had no idea how many catches I had to get for breaking Bob Stephenson’s tight end catching record,” he said. “It means a lot, but I’m still focused on the season and rolling out with these guys.”

Bolser caught the attention of the national media in his redshirt freshman season when he had 27 receptions, 407 yards and five touchdowns. Five media outlets, including ESPN.com and Rivals.com, selected him for their All-Freshman teams.

He was the lone freshman included in the 22-player John Mackey Award Midseason Watch List, which is awarded annually to college football’s most outstanding tight end.
Bolser is book-ending his collegiate career in similar fashion to how it began. On Monday, he was among the eight tight ends who were named semifinalists for the 2013 John Mackey Award.

When asked what it would mean to him if he won the award, Bolser was lost for words.

“I’d be speechless,” he said. “It’s a great award and to win it … I’ve never even fathomed that.”

***

Wilson said Bolser benefits from finally having stability in his final year of eligibility.

“I actually coached him the first year,” Wilson said. “He went from a coach then to me and then on.”

Bolser said the Hoosiers were pretty much a running team in Wilson’s first season in Bloomington.

“He didn’t know what I was capable of doing, and he was figuring out everybody’s strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “I ended up blocking a lot. It’s been a real roller coaster.”

Bolser’s receiving statistics took a nosedive in the first year of the new regime. After posting numbers that earned him All-Big Ten honorable mention honors as a redshirt freshman, Bolser was limited to 14 receptions for 165 yards and one touchdown in 2011.

His receptions and receiving yards nearly tripled from his redshirt sophomore to redshirt junior season.

Wilson said the coaching staff underwent restructuring after the 2011 season and Offensive Coordinator Seth Littrell, who came to IU from the University of Arizona in 2012, took over the role as Tight Ends Coach.

However, the roller coaster ride was far from over.

“This year we’ve had some people get hurt here and there, so I had to block a little bit more,” Bolser said. “I was catching the ball a lot more at the beginning of the season.”

The tight end caught 11 passes for 134 yards and four touchdowns in IU’s first two games.

“I think having Coach Littrell for two years in a row … (helped him in) having some continuity as far as what he’s hearing every day, kind of relating to him,” Wilson said.

As IU’s rushing attack gained momentum throughout the season — Tevin Coleman and Stephen Houston became the first Hoosier running back duo in school history to both rush for at least 100 yards in consecutive games — the offense has had to rely less on the arms of its quarterbacks, meaning fewer touches for Bolser.

“I’ve enjoyed it all,” he said. “I think everything has worked out in my favor.”

Bolser said he and Littrell have connected well in their two seasons together.

“He said he’s exactly like me,” Bolser said. “Just a hard-headed kid, didn’t care about much but just tried to get the job done. We joke around, but when he gets serious and I get serious, we know not to mess around with each other and we get the job done.”

The Hoosiers have unfinished business in order to accomplish the goals they set before the season. With a 4-6 record and two weeks remaining in the season, their backs are against the wall. IU controls its own destiny regarding postseason eligibility, and that mission starts at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, where the Hoosiers will face a No. 3 Buckeyes squad that has won 22 consecutive games.

How does Bolser want to bookend his career?

“Beat Ohio State and Purdue,” he said. “That’s about it.”

***

With the final regular season games of his college career taking place in November and college graduation in December, Bolser is focused on making the most of his final months of college.

“I just want to try to have fun with everybody,” he said. “I don’t have much time here. This is the closest our group has ever been, so (I) just (want to) go out there and have fun and enjoy every second.”

Bolser is pleased with the four and a half years he has spent donning cream and crimson.

“I think I found my niche, especially at the tight end position, and I’ve had a lot of great years here,” he said. “I think I’ve done pretty well here, and I’m happy with it.”

The Cincinnati native hasn’t given much thought to his NFL prospects.

“I’ve thought about it here and there, but I rarely talk about it with my coaches,” he
said.

Whether or not Bolser has thought about a future as a tight end at the next level, he is on the NFL’s radar. ESPN Insider ranks Bolser as the 17th best tight end prospect for the 2014 NFL draft.

In the past five drafts, an average of 15.4 tight ends were selected per year, putting Bolser on the cusp of having his name called at Radio City Music Hall in May.

Bolser would be the fourth tight end who played under Wilson to be drafted.

As Oklahoma University’s Offensive Coordinator, as well as being the Sooners’ Tight Ends and Fullbacks Coach, Wilson coached former First-Team All-American tight end Jermaine Gresham. Gresham had 111 receptions, 1,629 yards and 26 receiving touchdowns in his three-year collegiate career. The Cincinnati Bengals chose Gresham with the 21st selection in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Wilson has also coached tight ends James Hanna, a sixth round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, and Brody Eldridge, a fifth round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

As Bolser’s tight end coach in 2011, Wilson would occasionally talk about his previous tight ends, but Bolser said Wilson has since given that up.

“He used to when he first got here, but ever since that I kind of found my own identity,” Bolser said.

Click here to read this article on the Indiana Daily Student website. 

Hoosiers on the road to take on No. 3 Ohio State

With eight home games this fall, the Hoosiers had hoped earning bowl eligibility would be in their rearview mirror at this point in the season.

Instead, in order to secure a spot in a bowl game, IU (4-6, 2-4) will have to win consecutive games against Big Ten opponents — a feat the program has accomplished only once since its last appearance in a bowl game in 2007.

The Hoosiers will face No. 3 Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday.

IU Coach Kevin Wilson said IU has to slightly modify its preparation due to the combination of fatigue, injuries and a sense of urgency.

“The urgency is we’ve got to keep getting better more than we’ve got to get this win to be a bowl team,” he said.

Coming off of the team’s worst defeat of the season, a 51-3 drubbing at the hands of Wisconsin, Wilson said IU worked to “flush the funk out of that performance” in preparation for the Buckeyes.

“Do you want to rehash that play and be negative, negative, negative?” he asked. “It’s not right. Some things need to be coached and corrected, and sometimes it needs to be flushed and moved on.”

Wilson said with a bowl opportunity on the line for the next two weeks, the Hoosiers’ goal is always constant improvement.

“I need their best two weeks,” he said. “We need to finish these two weeks the best we can, get better offense from a week ago. Got a great challenge this week, and we have to bring every phase of our defense along.”

IU’s defense will try to slow down the nation’s fourth highest scoring offense on Saturday.

Led by junior quarterback Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes average almost 50 points per game. Miller has thrown for 1,466 yards and 17 touchdowns this season while also rushing for 594 yards and three scores.

“I think Braxton is a tremendous runner for a quarterback,” Wilson said. “Now a lot of guys say the guy can’t throw. I mean, his passing percentage is 68 percent, which is a better passing percentage than us.”

When comparing IU and Ohio State’s offenses, Wilson said the Buckeyes have a physical presence and run a threat that the Hoosiers lack.

After being suspended for the first three games of the season, Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, has 120 carries for 947 yards and 11 touchdowns in seven games.

Ohio State’s depth at skill possessions sticks out to IU Defensive Coordinator Doug Mallory.

“I don’t think they necessarily feature one guy in the passing game or one guy in the running game,” he said. “They’ve got a stable four receivers, a talented group of receivers, a talented group of running backs.”

As the Hoosiers prepare for an Ohio State team that hasn’t lost since Jan. 2, 2012, Wilson said IU is going to continue building as a team and as a program, keeping this year’s seniors in mind.

“These guys have a lot of respect for how far some of these seniors and what they’ve gone through and where we’re at,” he said. “It’s the best week. Go play as hard as we can, as best we can, and see if we can be competitive this week and get us on the right side.”

Click here to read this article on the Indiana Daily Student website.